Home Global-ICTGlobal-ICT 2008 Digital technology for a better life

Digital technology for a better life

by david.nunes
Author's PictureIssue:Global-ICT 2008
Article no.:4
Topic:Digital technology for a better life
Author:Kemal Huseinović
Title:Director General
Organisation:Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina
PDF size:196KB

About author

Kemal Huseinović is the Director General of the Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an independent state institution with sole jurisdiction over the country’s telecommunications and broadcasting sectors. During his long career in his country’s government, Mr Huseinović has served in a variety of high-level posts including as Counsellor for foreign policy to the Prime Minister and as national Y2K coordinator. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr Huseinović served as Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy to Slovenia; as head of the Directorate for Financing, Information and Communication Systems, as Acting Assistant Minister for General Affairs and headed the Ministry’s Division for Computer and Communication Networks. Mr Huseinović began his career as a software engineer at Energoinvest, in what was then Yugoslavia. Mr Huseinović has participated in numerous international conferences as the head of national delegations and has spoken at many of these events. Kemal Huseinović holds a B.S. in electrical engineering, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Ljubljana and Master of Electrical Engineering, from the University of Sarajevo.

Article abstract

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Communications Regulatory Agency has been steadily transforming its communications sector. Despite the slowdown during the war that ended in 1995, the country now boasts penetration figures similar to the rest of the South-Eastern Europe region for both fixed and mobile communications. The agency’s efforts to expand service by fostering competition have resulted in a marketplace with three fixed and three mobile operators, 15 alternative fixed public telephony operators, 53 cable TV providers and 198 radio and TV stations.

Full Article

In recent years, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electronic communications sector has undergone a remarkable transformation. On one hand, it has heavily invested in the reconstruction, maintenance and expansion of communications networks while, on the other hand, it has prepared for the liberalization process. The electronic communication sector refers to broadcasting and distribution of TV programmes and telecommunications as converged markets. Considering that Bosnia and Herzegovina has been severely damaged by the turbulence of the war here which ended in 1995, the global technological revolution did have an effect, though on a smaller scale compared with the developed countries, on Bosnia and Herzegovina, but still comparable with other countries in the Region. The Communications Regulatory Agency was established to introduce and maintain healthy competition in all segments of electronic communications and to regulate the country’s complex market in accordance with principles of transparency, fairness. It was conceived as an organ independent from political influence, which tends to be quite strong in any country in transition. Since it was established in 2001, the Agency has made commendable inroads in implementing a workable state-wide regime for electronic communications in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Undoubtedly, the coming period is going to be a challenging one for the regulator, since the effectiveness of the regulations issued will be tested in the market. Three fixed and three mobile operators provide Bosnia and Herzegovina’s communication services. In addition, 15 alternative operators offer Fixed Public Telephony Services, and 75 operators are licensed to provide network services, of which 55 providers are licensed for Cable TV distribution; there are also 198 radio and TV stations. The penetration rate for fixed telephony is around 41 per cent of the population, while the penetration of GSM mobile subscribers exceeds 60 per cent. With the penetration of approximately 25.5 fixed lines per 100 inhabitants, Bosnia and Herzegovina is in line with the South-Eastern Europe (SEE) average. During the past four years, the digitalization rate of fixed networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina increased from 85 per cent to 98 per cent. Although the Internet penetration rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still relatively low (27.25 per cent in 2007), there are 60 licensed Internet service providers. Dial-up Internet access predominates; 69 per cent of all Internet subscribers use it. Approximately 33 per cent of all Internet subscribers have broadband service. ADSL provides broadband Internet access for 13.7 per cent of the subscribers, and cable Internet subscribers account for 10.7 per cent. In line with the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) definition, according to which an Internet user is any person from 16 to 74 years old that uses the Internet during a given year, the Agency estimates that there are 1,055,000 Internet users in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the country has a total of 4,000,000 inhabitants. DSL is the principal technology offered by incumbent operators; it accounts for about 55 per cent of all the broadband service in the country. It is followed by cable access, which provides 30 per cent of the broadband service, FWA (fixed wireless access) provides ten per cent and other technologies – mostly GSM – provide the remaining five per cent. Data on the number of broadband access users in Bosnia Herzegovina is available only for xDSL; there were 21.664 users as of January 1, 2007, or 0.56 xDSL connections per 100 inhabitants. Economic and social inclusion There has always been a great divide between wealthy, developed nations and poor, underdeveloped ones. This divide includes both economic wealth and social conditions. The contribution that information and communications technologies, or the lack thereof, makes to this divide is what is now known as the digital divide. Many regions in transition are economically difficult to connect; this makes them unattractive markets for service providers. Many government agencies and businesses would like to take advantage of the technological advancements which are helping economies in the developed world thrive, but they currently have no affordable access to these technologies. In today’s economy, connecting communities in transition through broadband communication is at the heart of the digital revolution – and critical to global long-term health and prosperity. It is believed that bridging the digital divide, and providing communications technologies to remote communities in developing countries can improve the lives of more than 80 per cent of their population. In today’s global economy, to become productive and prosperous communities must first be connected to the rest of the world through these communications technologies. Application of information technology (IT) is the driving force behind every global business operation and government remote community initiatives. Today, it is prohibitively costly for businesses and governments to dispatch workers to provide a wide variety of services or to collect information in order to make business decisions. The obvious fundamental questions are: • what is the potential influence of information technology for communities in transition?; and • what barriers must be overcome to take advantage of advances in information technology? The business and social implications of ICT infrastructure go far beyond questions of basic communication between individuals; they include providing real-time healthcare, e-commerce, tele-education and public safety surveillance. Real time decision-making is of paramount importance; it can save lives, prevent environmental catastrophes and facilitate business transactions anywhere in the world. Cooperation between the developed and developing regions of the world is essential to bring the advances of modern technology to bear, to reduce the digital divide and promote economic and social inclusion throughout the world. Risks and challenges To establish a sustainable and communication oriented society it is important to consider the network and what it consists of. The network is divided into four principal layers: the user applications layer; last mile local access; the data aggregation layer; and the backbone network. There are certain risks associated with each of the communications layers. Unlike urban communication environments, rural and remote communities have specific infrastructure needs such as remote upgrades, remote management, and coping with extreme operating conditions. The most effective, practical, solution is to adopt an evolutionary strategy, which includes: • ways to deal with application features and content, updates in remote locations that keep memory requirements to a minimum; • whe use of equipment suitable for extreme weather conditions, and be as cost effective as equipment for urban deployment; • minimising both capital and operational costs; and • optimising the number of satellite to earth ‘hops’, traversed fast data that is transferred to the end-user. This has a direct impact on the application delay, and is especially important for delay-sensitive telemedicine, video surveillance and energy resources applications. Business and government leaders are keenly aware of the cost and importance of the application and the services they support. Not all, however, are aware of the appropriate technologies needed to provide cost-effective information access that will bring a significant business and economic return. In fact, most community-in-transition projects assume that IT infrastructure can easily be extended to their applications. In many cases, traditional IT infrastructure is an over-kill for community-in-transition applications. Also, it is quite often inappropriate for the extreme environmental and operating conditions in many remote locations. Choosing the appropriate infrastructure will have significant business impact on the outcome of enterprise and community projects. At the same time, technology has been advancing at a phenomenal pace. Information and communication technology, once considered a luxury, is a necessity today – it is an integral part of the fabric of day-to-day life. IP based networks are the foundation of today’s digital economy. Evolving a strategy to provide communication services to communities-in-transition in a businesslike and cost-effective way is critical. Bosnia and Herzegovina intend to quickly deploy IP based networks to provide basic communication services, and simultaneously create possibilities to evolve the network’s ability to provide services such as e-commerce, telemedicine or surveillance.

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